Toney and Peter Win

By Tom Donelson
Updated: May 1, 2005

Samuel Peter & James Toney

NEW YORK — The heavyweight division is actually quite interesting, even if it is mired in mediocrity. Each fight has significance for almost every fighter either has a claim of the title or is in the hunt for the title.

You have at least 10 fighters, who could be champion after any given fight. And each fighter has weakness to go with his strength and every fight is competitive with no sure winner to be predicted before the opening bell.

Samuel Peter is the latest edition of the Nigerian Nightmare and a man that most feel is the master of destruction. A slow moving methodical slugger, Peter’s power makes up for his lack of speed but he has yet to be truly tested.

But in a heavyweight division that is even through the first top ten, Peter has a good shot as anyone to at least claim some version of the title.

Peter beat up on a game, but outclassed Gilbert Martinez. Martinez offered no resistance and nothing was proved in this fight except that Peter showed show skills in winning what was essentially a sparring session. Peter best points is that of all of the top heavyweight contenders, he is the only one under the age of 30.

At 24, he has a bright future and most of those ahead of him are either 30 or over. Even Calvin Brock, whose stock went up after beating McCline last week, is 30.

The real question is what will happen when Peter take the next step up? He has yet to be hit hard or challenged and we still don’t know how good he really is. Last week, Brock took a giant step when he beat McCline and he was forced to come off the canvas to win. We know that Brock is a top ten fighter but we don’t know if Peters is.

James Toney promoted his battle with Ruiz in a whirl world profanity laced paced. The mouth was continuous but then the man is a hall of fame fighter so allowances are made. Against Ruiz, he faced a unique challenge in fighting a brawling whose heart makes up for a lack of superstar talent.

Toney’s challenge going into the championship fight was to discourage the holding tactics of Ruiz and this challenge was made even more difficult since becoming a heavyweight, Toney has suffered as many serious injuries as fights. Past the age of 35, the body and strain of being a heavyweight appeared to be its toll on Toney.

Ruiz decided that instead of mugging and holding, he would outbox the smaller Toney. While the first six rounds appeared close, Toney quicker hands and defensive skills provided the age. And despite the bowling ball appearance, Toney conditioning proved to be superior to the bigger Ruiz.

As the seventh round began, Toney landed yet another of his patented right hand and his feet tangled with Ruiz, sending Ruiz to the canvas. Ruiz got up, more embarrassed than hurt. From the eighth round on, Toney superior boxing skills allowed the former middleweight to take Ruiz title. Toney scored on nearly half of his punches and his defensive skills frustrated Ruiz.

What can we conclude? For one, Toney is one of our generation best fighters and he defeated one of the top three heavyweights. Ruiz, for all his faults, is the second or third best heavyweight and Toney beat him decisively.

Toney is one of those fighters, who is a throwback for he is a skilled practitioner of the sweet science. He knows how to avoid punches and counters with accuracy. Like a cobra, he strikes quickly before going into his defensive shell. He could avoid punches being in a phone booth and Toney still has his middleweight hand speed. He may be roly-poly but his smartness in the ring allows him to conserve energy.

Going into this fight, I could not see Toney winning against the bigger Ruiz but I was wrong. Toney biggest asset is his ring savvy and confidence. Toney can’t imagine any fighter beating him and there are very few fighters who will outthink him in the ring.

Which is why Toney won last Saturday night.